Education is a very important concern in the hearts of Americans. . But what exactly is the best form of education. Homeschooling has gradually made its way into the education field as an acceptable and controversial form of education. Homeschooling can simply be defined as educating children at home or the community rather than at school (Withrow, 1999; Cromwell, 1998; Lines, 1995). An alternative definition would be, parents choosing the schooling for their children (What is Homeschooling, 2000). Home schooling started thirty years ago because of two men, Raymond Moore and John Holt. Both men felt that the public education system was wrong and emerged as founders of the homeschooling movement in America. Moore believed that children were being pushed in school to learn things they were not ready to learn. After evtensive research, he concluded that children in schools become extremely dependent on their peers. (Lyman, 1998). John Holt believed that it was beneficial to homeschool children because children were not being encouraged to use their natural curiosity. His negative attitude towards schools is shown when he wrote, "To return once more to compulsory school in its barest form, you will surely agree that the government told you that on one hundred and eighty days of the year, for six or more hours a day, you had to be at a particular place, and there do whatever people told you to do, you would feel that this was a gross violation of your civil liberties." Holt viewed schools as places that produced "obedient, but bland citizens" (Lyman, 1998). Home education is one of the fastest growing alternative forms of education to public schooling (Cook, 1999; Withrow, 1999). Approximately one million children or more are being educated in their homes because of the success of homeschooling. (Two Takes on Homeschooling, 1997) The increase of students does not seem to be slowing down, and with growing concern over the public schools, the growth of the homeschooling movement is inevitable. One of the main areas of concern for homeschooling is the academic performance of students; even though there is much debate on the testing assessments and the data collected, research shows that that homeschoolers achieve academically at the same level, or in most cases, above students in a traditional school setting (Lines, 1995; Cook,1999). Despite the growth and apparent success of homeschooling, it has proven to be a controversial form of education that has many advantages and disadvantages dealing with the teaching of children. Reasons for Homeschooling Although there are various reasons why families may decide to homeschool their children, most decisions are based on one or both of these issues: personal beliefs and problems with the public school Personal Beliefs Parents feel that homeschooling is a way to meet the child's specific needs and interests while challenging them. They also believe that a home education allows children to participate in many activities that school-bound children are not able to participate in. Homeschoolers are able to pursue interests without time and restraints placed on them by the school. Some of the activities where homeschoolers may interact with are organizations such as, church, clubs, and scouting. Most parents of homeschoolers contend that they are the only ones responsible for their children's education, and that they should be making the decisions about what values their children are learning and not the public schools. Most homeschooling families can agree that schools separate education and the home which makes homeschooling the only logical alternative because as Fritz Hinrich says, "Homeschooling is bringing education back into children's daily culture because it makes education a familial pursuit." () Problems with Schools There are several issues that homeschooling families disagree with concerning the public school. One of the main problems is that conventional schools require that children and teachers follow directions and give up responsibility, while homeschooling not only allows, but basically requires people to take responsibility for themselves. Another problem with schools is the holding back of progress in a course. Homeschoolers are allowed to work at their own level and at their own pace whether it be slower or faster. At schools children are also forced to conform to the teacher's style of learning, whereas, at home, the student can process information the best possible way since parents are more apt to know what works for their child and what does not. (Moitozo, 2000) Some of the other problems with conventional schooling is that the classes are too big, unlike homeschooling where the child can have individualized attention. Other concerns are the low academic standards that are set in public schools, the influence of negative peer pressure, and the growing problem with safety in the public school system (Pros and Cons of Homeschooling, 2000; Areglado, 1997). Reasons against Homeschooling Qualified teaching There are many parents who are homeschooling right now that are not qualified, being a loving parent does not mean that they are qualified. In a public school children are guaranteed that their teacher has a college degree, some homeschool parents do not even have a high school education. Being a loving parent doesn't necessarily guarantee a quality education for a child (Areglado, 1997). Socialization Homeschooling deprives children of real-life situations that develop cooperation, problem-solving skills, and interdependence with their classmates. Because families spend their time at home with family members, it is impossible for them to learn how to work with others. At a public school children are alos exposed to social, culture, and gender differences that will teach them how to work and live after their schooling days. Some valuable lessons that could never be performed at home are missed out by homeschoolers because they are isolated from the world (Areglado, 1997). One parent who was debating whether to homeschool or not decided against it because out of the five most important events in a person's life (high school prom, marriage, death of a loved one, high school graduation, and the birth of a child) a homeschooler will basically miss out on two of them automatically. (Kuntz, 2000) Cost Public schools are free. Low-income families can attend without worrying about money, unlike homeschools that have a cost to buy curriculums, materials, and equipment. Also, in homeschooling one family member must give up their income in order to teach their children, and most families can not afford to do that (Szegedy-Maszak). ?? Homeschooling may deprive a child of vital skills needed to succeed outside of high school and in the workforce. In the public schools it is almost guaranteed that a child will get them; whereas homeschoolers most likely will not.
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